Erich Mielke was the head of the Stasi or the East German secret police from 1957 to 1989 and the fall of the Berlin Wall. During his time in office he turned the Stasi into "the largest, best equipped and most pervasive police state apparatus ever to exist on German soil" Following the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989 he was arrested and imprisoned but released due to poor health in 1995. He died in 2000 in a Berlin nursing home.
Australian journalist Anna Funder wrote of Mielke "It is said that psychopaths, people utterly untroubled by conscience, make supremely effective generals and politicians and perhaps he was one." The characters Timoteo and Norberto have many parallels with him.